I have not worked in my art journal for weeks. This time of year is just busy to a crazily hectic degree. I decided to grab some little pockets of time over the past few days to produce an illustration in my art journal. I decided to work on an Art Journal Adventure prompt that I had missed. Last week’s prompt was “clown”. That was never going to happen given that I am a massive coulrophobe so I pondered the broader prompt, which was circus. My clown phobia is actually tied up in a milder phobia of circuses. However, I have an interest in the history of sideshows and “freaks” so that was the avenue my creative imagination wandered down. I have illustrated the Pig-Faced Lady of Manchester Square before in my art journal and this time I intended to draw another favourite “freak”, Lionel the Dog-Faced Boy. However, I was so short on art time that I decided to produce a much simpler and more whimsical illustration. I, therefore, chose to depict a version of the Fiji Mermaid. This was a curiosity exhibited by PT Barnum as the mummified remains of a mermaid when it was actually the head and torso of a monkey stitched onto the tail of a fish. This is just a simple ink drawing coloured with a very loose wash of watercolour.
The Art Journal Adventure prompt for last week was “Eyes”. I knew instantly what I wanted to do – it just took me almost an entire week to find the time to do it. When I was a wee girl, I became fascinated with glass eyes. I saw some in a junk shop I was in with my Gran and thought they looked amazing. I was a massive fan of marbles so to me they were like really cool marbles. I wanted them but my request was denied, whether for price or for taste reasons I do not know. I would repeatedly tell my parents that I wanted to start collecting glass eyes. It never happened. This journal page, however, is inspired by that lifelong fascination with glass eyes and depicts an imagined collection of them.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “outward from the centre”. I initially had a much more complex and time consuming idea in mind but it took me over a week to even get the chance to open my art journal so I decided to ditch that idea and produce a simple illustration in ink and watercolour instead. I drew a figure – somewhat inspired by Lady Rainicorn from ‘Adventure Time’ – by taking the prompt literally and starting at the centre and working my way outwards in a spiral. Then it was simply a case of filling in the figure with watercolour and drawing in the details using black ink.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “puzzled’. It took me the entire week to find time to sit down with my art journal as all my free art time has been spent on Inktober and my contribution to the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook project (which you can see on my other blog). By that time, however, my creative cogs had been turning for long enough for me to have arrived at an idea. I decided that I would create a self-portrait because sometimes I am a puzzle to myself and, like a jigsaw puzzle, I am made up of many different pieces. Taking that idea further, I decided that my substrate should be a collaged layer of pieces of paper. And taking that idea further still, I thought it might be fun to break my face down into elements of shapes and forms rather like a Picasso portrait. I remember as a child that the thing I found most engaging about Picasso’s art was the way that my eye could take in all of the information and my brain would then reconfigure everything so that I could understand what I was seeing, what was being portrayed. It was like resolving a visual puzzle.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was Halloween. I had received my October Art Snacks box but had not attempted the challenge of using all of the items to create art. Since one of the things in my box was a jar of orange ink, it seemed like the subject of Halloween might be a good way to kill two art birds with one stone. I was initially going to go much darker and creepier with my Halloween art work but – perhaps since I was drawing while watching ‘Frankenweenie’ with my kids – my creative mojo led me to draw a band of cute monsters trick or treating. This was my first time using brush pens. It took a while to get the hang of how to hold them to create different strokes and widths but it was fun trying something new, which is the point of receiving a box of art goodies each month.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “Triangles”. I did not think I was going to find any available art time for my art journal this week. I have been using all of my little rations of art time for keeping up with my Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook and participating in Inktober. However, today I was on a field trip with my preschool class and that meant I managed to get home an hour earlier than usual. I, therefore, sat down with a hot mug of tea and decided to play in my art journal. This week’s prompt allowed me to keep things simple. I just opened up a box of watercolours (ones that belong to my children actually as they happened to be to hand) and started doodling triangles using a medium sized brush. The triangles are very imprecise as a result but, hey, it’s not a geometry lesson and these aren’t architectural or engineering plans so who cares.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was the last in the series provided by my friend Jana. Her prompt was “changing seasons” but her tutorial also focused on demonstrating eco-dyeing. I was inspired by both. Unfortunately, it was one of those overwhelming weeks – a pretty stressful one actually – where I had very little time for art. I, therefore, recognised that my ability to dye papers within that week was going to be pretty limited. I have wanted to try eco-dyeing since I saw a blog post by Claudia McGill all about making parcels of materials that would leech colour into paper over time. Jana demonstrated a sped-up process that produced similar results. I am definitely going to give it a go. I just need to have a chunk of time in which to gather my materials. So, in the mean time, I resorted to dyeing book pages – some of which were already a little foxed – using tea, coffee, and steeped onion skins.
I had a page in my art journal that I did not know what to do with. It was the reverse of the page that I had handstitched so it was full of ugly, messy knots and stitches. I decided it could form the basis of a textural background for this page. I scraped gesso across the page roughly so as to somewhat embed and fix the thread of the stitches and I kept the gesso rough and splotchy so as to add more literal and visual texture. I then scraped across some light brown paint to create a neutral tone in the background, especially given that the “changing seasons” prompt was making me think of the colours of Autumn – and man am I looking forward to Autumn. Thinking of the glow of Autumn light, I scraped some bronze paint across the page and spattered gold paint at the top and bottom. All that remained was to decide how to incorporate the eco-dyed paper into the page. I decided upon circular, hoop shapes because I was thinking about the cyclical nature of the seasons. I cut some in different sizes from the dyed papers and adhered them to the page. Part of me thinks the page needs something more but I was out of time and out of ideas so, therefore, for now at least I consider this art journal page done.